I know I changed this blog to be about things that are in my home rather than just random blogging. So, here's a review of the Schumacher SE-1-12S Fully Automatic Onboard Battery Charger - 1.5 Amps. I figure, my garage is part of my home and this is in my garage, so there you go. Here's a picture of it:
Anyway, I bought this back in April 2010 because I barely drive my car anywhere anymore, so my battery loses its charge often. Instead of having to buy a new car battery all the time, I thought I'd save myself some money and get myself a charger instead.
I found this on Amazon (waited a bit until the price went down to about $21.99) and decided to go for an onboard one because I figured I'd mount it somewhere under my hood and plug my car in when it needed charging. Well, I ended up not doing that because I have no clue where I can even fit the thing. Anywhere near my car's battery isn't gonna work because there's no room, but it kind of has to be close to the battery because the leads are so short. So, I use it unmounted and just have it sitting on top of my headlight when I have it plugged in.
I should have gotten just a normal charger with alligator style clamps instead... it'd be a whole lot easier than using the Schumacher in the way that I ended up using it. I'll probably pick up the Centech float charger for $4.99 from Harbor Freight (it gets pretty decent reviews) if they ever get the things in stock at my local store. They always seem to have the coupons for it, but the chargers are never on the shelves - probably because they want you to spend your money on something else. Since those are always out of stock, maybe I'll just forget about Harbor Freight and spend a little more on a Battery Tender 021-0123 Battery Tender Junior 12V Battery Charger - that one seems to have a nice long cord for my purposes and excellent reviews.
Anyway, as for the Schumacher charger itself, I've only had to use it twice since I bought it, but it's revived my battery nicely each time. It is sort of a hassle to get the leads connected to my battery each time since I don't have it mounted, but other than that, it works very well. It does make kind of a humming noise when it's charging, but since it's in the garage I don't really care and can't hear it when I'm not in the garage anyway.
The power cord on the charger itself is really short, so I have to get out an extension cord every time I need to use it. But that's really its intended design. It shouldn't have a long cord because it is meant to be mounted, so you wouldn't want to have it under your hood with the power cable dragging underneath your car as you drive it.
If you're looking for an onboard charger/maintainer that does what it's supposed to do, then this is a good choice. Just make sure that there's actually a place where you can mount it that's somewhat close to the battery itself.
If you're not really sure if you have a place it can be mounted or want something that's easier to connect and disconnect from your battery (if you plan on using it just every once in a while or for more than one car), then go with a charger that has clamps instead of ring terminals.
If I ever do end up buying a different charger, I'll make a post about that too.